Publisher: EA Sports
Reviewed on: PC - Allied Patriot-A
Also available on: PlayStation 4 & 5, Xbox One & Series S/X
Release Date: 1st July 2022
Price: $79.90 - Amazon
F1 22 is the latest instalment in the F1 game franchise, and although it's only been a year, a surprising amount has changed between F1 21 and this year's release. I have been playing almost exclusively with my Thrustmaster T248 racing wheel and this sim racer is probably the best time I've had with said wheel.
With the addition of multiple new game modes and features, and the challenge of reflecting the real world F1 changes it's no surprise then that F1 22 feels completely different to last year. This year's game is in a lot of ways more of an experience than a game, the introduction of ‘F1 life’ and things like driver contracts really put you in the ‘driving seat’ (pun intended). You get to experience the life of an F1 driver like never before. Let's talk a little about ‘F1 life’ then. Essentially F1 life is the F1 version of FIFA’s ‘The Journey’ in which you as the driver have what is essentially a showroom, this showroom consists of your collection of Supercars, trophies and furniture etc. You unlock these things by playing the game, using “supercar tokens” which you unlock by completing races or specific challenges you can unlock certain supercars and add them to your collection, you use in game currency to buy different furniture and décor and obviously you earn trophies by, well, earning trophies/winning races. While it serves no real purpose than bragging rights, it does add a very distinct level of immersion. Any supercars unlocked using the tokens you will accumulate can then be used throughout your career mode by taking part in regular Pirelli hot laps or time trials. Personally, I wasn't a huge fan of these as they were not only rather meaningless but they disparity between the F1 cars and the Supercars was far too great for my liking, after racing an F1 car for 20 odd laps, jumping into a supercar felt like driving a cargo ship. However I can see a lot of people liking this change of pace and I might be in the minority.
Career mode follows a fairly similar structure to previous games with a few additions; a lot of effort has gone into making career mode a very interactive experience over the last few releases. From the R&D projects to driver perks there's a lot of ways to personalise and immerse you into the world of racing. There's multiple different career lengths available giving you the freedom to choose between a 10 race season all the way up to a full 22 race season. Each season comes with a self appointed rival against whom your season is judged, you must out-qualify and outscore them to win the rivalry which will in turn allow you to demand a higher contract at the end of the season.
Codemasters has apparently spent the last few years working alongside some F1 industry engineers to develop F1 22’s physics model to capture the realism of players and to reflect real world changes of current F1 cars which are in fact some of the biggest changes in recent memory. This is reflected massively in the gameplay, with players having to really think about how they handle the track and in particular chicanes and kerbs etc.
Playing with a racing wheel such as the Thrustmaster T248 is the absolute best way to play F1 22 in my opinion. The force feedback is used to perfection and simulates real track conditions allowing you to feel every bump in the road or the weight of the car as you throw it around the corners. The heads up display shows some very important information and only serves to add to the immersion levels. However due to the new physics one wrong decision even all the way back in the garage can effectively ruin your weekend. I made the mistake of trying out some of the different vehicle presets and when it came to trying the one designed to minimise downforce but maximise top speed, the car became almost uncontrollable. Leading to my first finish outside the top 5. Luckily it was the last race of the season and I’d already tied up the title by then. There's plenty of settings available to support anyone playing with a driving wheel setup. I can only comment on what settings are available for the T248 but, you can adjust the maximum rotation settings allowing you to effectively up the sensitivity to allow for that authentic F1 feel and also leave it at a full 720° for the supercars races adding to the realism of driving a full size car.
F1 22 is an excellent F1 game, in fact, its hands down the best one I've played. There's plenty to do and the whole experience is very clean and polished. It isn't an arcade racer, it's a proper sim racer with proper simulation conditions, however, these simulation conditions are (just like previous years) adjustable to suit your ability level. You're given the ability to change driver AI ability, car damage and even driving assists such as steering and braking assists. So whether you're new to F1 games or a seasoned pro, there's a mode for everyone.
One thing I don't like however is the ability to set different emotes and voice clips for certain scenarios. While on paper it sounds awesome, and it should be. However, every time I win a race, which lets be honest is almost every time. My character says the same line, he does the same celebration and the whole thing becomes very repetitive and annoying. The ability to select 4/5 different ones of each and to have them selected at random in the moment would be much better so I'm not hearing the exact same thing race after race. Aside from this, I have one other main gripe with F1 22. And that is the EA factor slowly creeping in. Sure, it's still a lot more consumer friendly than the likes of Gran Turismo 7 and the disaster that ended up being at launch. But, there are now microtransactions in F1 22. This adds the ability to buy a plethora of items from helmets, to liveries and emotes, to furniture. And while it's all cosmetic and not P2W it's still something I feel sim racers can do without.
Graphically, F1 22 is superb. I have played it on my Allied Patriot-A gaming PC with a 3080 capable of playing it on max settings at excellent frame rates of around 145FPS at 2K and 100FPS at 4K and the level of detail is phenomenal. The lighting, the track surface and even the crowds are all spot on. It's absolutely one of the best looking racing games to date.
Overall, if you're looking for a really good sim racer which goes to great effort to simulate real world conditions, then look no further. I personally have had a lot of fun with F1 22 and will continue to do so. F1 22 is definitely a huge step up over previous titles and not only plays well, but looks fantastic too.